There are encouraging signs.

No, I’m not going to discuss the world of sports again in this space. The encouragement I see is from this industry and how it is slowly, but ever so surely, addressing the lack of hvacr technicians — plus, it is (re)turning its attention to the importance of training and education.

At the recent ARI Spring Meeting, for instance, a good portion of the association’s annual media roundtable discussion focused in on industry recruitment initiatives and NATE testing. There is plenty going on in both arenas.

Regarding recruitment, ARI is working with approximately 15 hvacr associations towards establishing an Industry Coordinating Coalition (ICC). ICC’s aim, among other agenda items, is to promote hvacr as a solid career choice at every level. And this means grabbing the attention of grade schoolers and high schoolers, plus supporting votech and college — to beyond. In fact, by May, this coalition hopes to have an Internet site up and running at, where information is to be placed that points out the beauty of an hvacr career.

According to Ed Dooley, ARI vice president of communications and education, the possibilities of what can and will be placed on this site are endless, including listing the possible industry-sponsored scholarships and a thorough list of retraining (and training) programs available in this industry. We’ll keep you posted here on the progress of this coalition, which includes the likes of ACCA, MCAA, SMACNA, ASHRAE, GAMA, NHRAW, RSES, and more.

Recruit, recruit, recruit

It must be noted that, among its intentions, ICC plans to reach counselors at the junior high and high school levels.

Just like coaches and teachers, counselors can be a big influence on a young person’s life. Therefore, if a counselor is sold on selling the hvacr trade to a young prospect, that young prospect may just follow up and test out the hvacr trade.

Of course, we realize that counselors are not necessarily “preaching the word,” so to speak. My guess is that the majority are pushing junior high and high school students into anything but the trades. Many, I’d venture to predict, have no idea of what an hvacr technician does — or what s/he can get paid. Or, how much of a need there is for such techs in this building-crazy world.

It’s good to know that approximately 140 hvacr vocational school instructors attended a workshop sponsored by ARI’s Education and Training Committee in mid-March of this year. Current industry issues were the topics of discussions. It was just step one, said this committee, with many more strides to follow.

As a side note, one of these days The News staff plans to visit our area junior high and high school counselors and see how much they really know about this industry and its opportunities. In truth, everyone else should do the same, to alert these counselors that the hvacr industry seeks their unquestionable help and support.

If you need some ammunition to take with you, contact Leslie Sandler, director of education at ARI ( ARI has a career recruitment video available that’s geared to grades 7-12. It illustrates career options and job opportunities in the hvacr field in a fast-moving, MTV-ish format.

Swea and more

According to Dooley, by May ICC plans to put together 1,300 kits, all scheduled to go to selected schools. Each kit will address, among other facets, the workforce needs of the hvacr industry.

ICC believes every contractor can do his/her part, too. It encourages every contractor to host a “Career Day” program sometime this year at his/her nearby school. This would mean contacting the local junior high, high school, community college, or college-university and asking if you could give a report to students regarding the career opportunities in the hvacr industry. You just may be a good recruiter — who knows?

Other ICC goals include:

  • Sending a promotional editorial to 10,000 daily and/or weekly newspapers;
  • Developing online questioning and testing programs;
  • Addressing the decline in the number of votech schools and votech enrollment; and
  • Pushing for the passage of the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act (SWEA). The bill, introduced recently, would amend the Internal Revenue code to provide small employers (250 or fewer employees) in the skilled trades, a $15,000 tax credit per apprentice per year for up to four years.

Which leads me to what The News is doing. We are trying to honor hvacr instructors with our first-ever “Hvacr Instructor of the Year” award. And, you can read more about our contest in John Hall’s editorial (above, this page) and on page 33, which contains the rules, regulations, and entry form.

You can help us by passing the word along to hvacr students and instructors. While ICC is trying to help in the recruitment area, The News is trying to honor those who create a successful learning environment.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).